Results from the Drug Enforcement Administration’s (DEA’s) recently released 2015 National Drug Threat Assessment (NDTA) show that drug overdose deaths are the leading cause of injury death in the United States, ahead of deaths from motor vehicle accidents and firearms. In 2013, more than 46,000 people in the United States died from a drug overdose, and more than half of those were caused by prescription painkillers and heroin.
“Sadly, this report confirms what we’ve known for some time: Drug abuse is ending too many lives too soon and destroying families and communities,” said Chuck Rosenberg, acting administrator of the DEA, in a news release. “We must reach young people at an even earlier age, and teach them about its many dangers and horrors.”
Since 2002, prescription drug deaths have outpaced those of cocaine and heroin combined. Abuse of controlled prescription drugs is higher than that of cocaine, methamphetamine, heroin, MDMA (3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine) and PCP (phencyclidine) combined. Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid that is 25 to 40 times more potent than heroin, has caused more than 700 deaths in the United States between late 2013 and early 2015.
Fentanyl is sometimes added to heroin batches, or sold by itself as heroin, unknown to the user, the report stated.
The NDTA provides an up-to-date look at the many challenges that local communities face related to drug abuse and trafficking. Highlights in the report include drug abuse and trafficking trends for drugs such as heroin, prescription drugs, and the hundreds of synthetic drugs manufactured outside the United States and imported into this country.
The assessment factors in information from a host of data sources such as drug arrests, drug purity, laboratory analyses, information on the involvement of organized criminal groups, and survey data provided to the DEA by 1,105 state and local law enforcement agencies across the country.
The 2013 NDTA factors information provided by more than 1,100 state and local law enforcement agencies that responded to our 2015 National Drug Threat Survey. Download the report at www.dea.gov and read more about it here.